Georgia’s former president Mikheil Saakashvili was arrested on the rooftop of his flat in Kyiv approximately one hour ago by the Security Service of Ukraine.
His supporters were gathered at Saakashvili’s flat and livestreamed the operation.
The Special Service car carrying Saakashvili is currently being blocked from moving by his supporters.
Saakashvili is being charged under the 256th article of the Criminal Code of Ukraine which includes providing support for a criminal group and covering up crimes, Ukrainian authorities say. Saakashvili faces 3 to 5 years in prison if found guilty.
Saakashvili addressed his supporters before being arrested: “Don’t let them commit this crime. They wanted to detain me, but they couldn’t manage to do so,” he said.
Saakashvili became a Ukrainian citizen in 2015, when he became the governor of Ukraine’s Odessa region. He resigned from the post one year ago and went into opposition against Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko. Saakashvili was stripped of his Ukrainian citizenship by President Poroshenko in July 2017, making him a stateless person and is officially not allowed to return to Ukraine. In September 2017 he re-entered the country by breaking through a police cordon at a crossing point with Poland together with his supporters.
In Georgia, United National Movement member Zaza Bibilashvili said that Saakashvili’s arrest this is the result of cooperation between Georgia’s former Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili and Ukraine’s President Petro Poroshenko, who are trying to remove Saakashvili from the political scene.
Chairperson of Parliament’s Legal Issues Committee MP Eka Beselia said that Saakashvili’s detention will be followed by bilateral legal cooperation between Georgia and Ukraine.
The Prosecutor’s Office of Georgia has issued an official statement saying they have not received any official information from the Ukrainian Prosecutor’s Office, however the notice about Saakashvili’s extradition has been sent already anyways.
Saakashvili was stripped of his Georgian citizenship by the Georgian authorities in December 2015. In 2014, he was charged in absentia in Georgia with abuse of power and embezzlement related to his time in office as president. He has denied the claims and alleges they are politically motivated.